MOZART: Piano Sonatas, K. 279, K. 282, K. 283 and K. 284 (Ibolya Toth/ Jeno Jando) (Naxos: 8.550447)
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Piano Sonatas Vol. 3
Sonata in C Major, K. 279
Sonata in E Flat Major, K. 282
Sonata in G Major, K. 283
Sonata in D Major, K. 284
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, theyoungest child of Leopold Mozart, author of a well known treatise on violin-playing and amusician in the service of the ruling Archbishop. Leopold Mozart was to sacrifice his owncareer in order to foster the God-given genius he soon perceived in his son. A childhoodspent in successful tours throughout Europe, in which the young Mozart demonstrated hisskill on the violin, and on the keyboard in improvisation and in performance with hissister Nannerl was followed by a less satisfactory adolescence at home in Salzburg.
Mozart's talent was none the less, but there seemed little opportunity at home,particularly after the death of the old Archbishop and the succession of a less indulgentpatron. In 1777 Mozart and his father, now Vice-Kapellmeister, were refused leave totravel, and Mozart himself resigned his position as Konzertmeister of the court orchestraand set out, accompanied only by his mother, to seek his fortune elsewhere. The journeytook him to Augsburg, to Munich and eventually to Paris, but only after a prolonged stayin Mannheim, the seat of the Elector of Bavaria, famous for its musical establishment.
In Mannheim Mozart made many friends among the musicians atcourt, but neither here nor in any of the other places he visited was there a suitableposition for him. The following year, after the death of his mother in Paris, he made hisway slowly back to Salzburg, where his father had found him another position at court thathe retained until 1781, when he found final precarious independence in Vienna. Thefollowing year he married the penniless younger sister of a singer on whom he had firstset his heart in Mannheim and won initial success with his German opera Die Entf??hrung aus dem Serail. There were pupils andsubscription concerts, and chances to arouse the admiration of fashionable audiences byhis skill as composer and keyboard-player in a new series of piano concertos. By the endof the decade, however, his popularity had waned, although there were signs of a change offortune in the success of a new German opera, DieZauberflote (The Magic Flute), which was still running at the time of hissudden death in December 1791.
Early in December 1774 Mozart and his father travelled toMunich, where the new opera, La finta giardiniera,was to be staged in the carnival season for the Elector Maximilian III Joseph, anenthusiastic patron and amateur, composer. The opera was eventually performed on 13thJanuary, after more extensive rehearsals than were usual with a repertory company, and waswell received. Mozart seems to have written the six sonatas, later listed in the Kochelindex as K. 279 - 284, early in 1775. They are the first surviving piano sonatas by thecomposer. The Sonata in C major, K. 279, has a cheerful first movement in the usualtripartite classical sonata form, its two themes providing material for the centraldevelopment section of the movement. The slow movement again follows common custom in itsuse of the subdominant key of F major, while in the third and final movement thesubsidiary theme gives scope for contrapuntal imitation. The fourth of the set, the Sonatain E flat major, K. 282, opens with an expressive Adagio, followed, unusually, by a pairof Minuets, the first, in B flat, repeated, to frame the second, in E flat. The sonataends with an Allegro in the spirit of Haydn.
The Sonata in G major, K.
283, has a charming enough principal subject, contrasted with a syncopatedsecondary theme and a brief central development section. The C major slow movementprovides a foretaste of piano concertos to come in its occasional poignancy and leads to afinal Presto, with the necessary touch of brilliance demanded in any conclusion.
The set of six sonatas ends with the Sonata in D major, K. 284, written for Baron vonD??rnitz, an amateur bassoonist and keyboard-player, who failed to pay Mozart for thework, as Leopold Mozart had to point out to his son on future occasions, in an attempt toinduce in him some practical sense of business. Mozart played this sonata and others ofthe set in Mannheim, when he visited the city in 1777, creating a most favourableimpression. He had already amazed the instrument-maker Andreas Stein and others earlier inhis journey, in Augsburg by his performance, in particular of the so-called D??rnitz Sonata in D major. This work starts with anopening declaration in octaves, with an element of display in the passage that links thefirst subject to the more lyrical second. The A major second movement is in the form of arondo, with a principal theme in Polish rhythm. This is followed by a theme and twelvevariations, the first with right-hand triplets and the second with triplets for the lefthand. The sixth variation allows crossing of hands, while the seventh moves into the keyof D minor, the original key restored in the octaves of the eighth. The decorative octavesof the tenth variation lead to an embellished Adagio and the panache of the twelfth andlast variation of the movement.
Jeno Jando was born at Pecs, in south Hungary, in 1952. Hestarted to learn the piano when he was seven and later studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academyof Music under Katalin Nemes and Pal Kadosa, becoming assistant to the latter on hisgraduation in 1974. Jando has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad,including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in thechamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. In additionto his many appearances in Hungary, he has played widely abroad in Eastern and WesternEurope, in Canada and in Japan. He is currently engaged in a project to record allMozart's piano concertos and sonatas for Naxos. Other recordings for the Naxos labelinclude the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and Beethoven's complete pianosonatas.